Libraries

Plymouth blue sky today, no filters.

Plymouth library, museum and art gallery all closed some time ago.

The site is being redeveloped to become The Box, a museum, gallery and cultural space . I’ve really missed being able to use the old facilities and have volunteered at the building site doing Hard Hat Tours as a way of being involved.
https://plymhearts.org/thebox/

Until today I hadn’t used the library in its new location. Primarily because I loved the old building and the new one, to be honest, is not charismatic. Plymouth deserves something glorious like Birmingham. In our dreams…

Libraries are not just about buildings and books.

theoldmortuary needed to find out the location of a deceased relations childhood address. We had tried all sorts of searches on-line line with no success. The library was our next choice and we arrived today with only scant information. The staff at the library were brilliant trying all sorts of searches. Eventually a pre war register of Plymouth inhabitants gave us the breakthrough we needed. Another member of staff delved into Cencus archives to double check the findings. After that we took a drive and found a cottage hidden from view up an alley and some steps. We would never have located it without the diligence of the library staff.
https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/libraries

Libraries are about friendly, knowledgable staff. Plymouth Central Library was very good to us.

Thankyou

Snowdrops

My first snowdrop of 2020. Known as the February Flower expected to appear at Candlemas on February 2nd. Always earlier in Southwest England. Stories stick to this little bulb which is the first to bloom in Cornwall as a sign of approaching Spring.

In the Creation story, it was gifted to Adam and Eve by an empathetic angel after they were cast out of Paradise following the apple incident. Gifted to give them hope of a future beyond banishment after their great transgression.

Neil Gaiman also gave the Snowdrop a positive spin in his novel Stardust giving it magical qualities.Character Tristan carries a small glass snowdrop to protect him from witches bad spells.

Not all myths and stories that are woven around the Snowdrop are positive . The Victorians blamed Snowdrops being brought indoors for causing the death of family members but the Victorians blamed lots of things for the death of family members. It can be known as the Death Flower.

One intriguing coincidence is that the snowdrop is believed to be the herb Moly mentioned in Homers Odyssey. Moly was given by the God Mercury to Ulysses to protect him from forgetfulness caused by poison. In the same poem it was also used to cure group amnesia . In the twentieth century it was discovered that the bulbs of snowdrops contain Galanthamine, an alkyloid used to manage Altzeimers Disease.

Beachcombing, bringing colour to the blog in January.

Winter time is beach time, storms bring odds and ends onto beaches. Even in Cuba, where we had hoped for sun, beach combing post storm became a holiday pleasure. Beachcombing brightens up a winter walk and takes your mind off the weather. Cornwall opens the majority of its beaches to dogs in the winter months, parking is often free so a lot of dog walks take us to the coast at this time of year.

Let’s start with the bright but bad stuff. Portwrinkle is one of the easiest beaches to get to from theoldmortuary but winter tides bring masses of plastics onto the beach. It is literally ” a drop in the Ocean” but every time we go there for a stroll we pick up a couple of carrier bags of plastic waste.

After yesterday’s monochrome blog I really wanted some colour. I knew I had these pictures in the archive. Bright but not beautiful, this is the result of just twenty minutes picking.

The next two pictures are genuine January photos.

Watergate bay in North Cornwall, where these pictures were taken, gets a different sort of man-made detritus. sea glass. I keep sea glass in jars. One for each coastline in the South West

Watergate Bay seems to get larger chunks of sea glass than other beaches I suspect it’s also not as old as some of the stuff that washes up nearer to Plymouth on the south coast.

January in Cuba, a couple of years ago, still landed us with stormy weather but thankfully the detritus was all natural. I used the sunset to provide lighting.

A colourful haul of flotsam and jetsam . Not exactly the correct definition but I’ve always loved those two words.

https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/flotsam-jetsam.html

Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.

Fogblog

These lacy images were created by a tree skeleton in the fog, Fog in the Tamar Valley is clean and bright, it turns the world monotone. The light has no bounce, my favourite muddy squiggle lacks its usual twinkle and inviting silkiness.

Driving higher just makes things worse, the world is a bright white blanket of denser fog. Later in the day the bridges of Saltash are taking people to an unseeable destination.

Beyond these bridges lies the rest of the world or “Up the line”or ” Up Country” as it is known locally.
One more skeleton tree image, for now. This strange environment is perfect for them. I’m uncertain what else it is perfect for.

Mandalaesque Skeleton Tree ©theoldmortuary

One of those days

BA45D06E-A199-4BE4-A215-2D07DB364896.jpeg

I took this photograph at the Royal William Yard during an art exhibition a couple of summers ago. Signs like this are common in ex services buildings, I keep a little file of them, you never know when a specific image like this will come in useful. Today is the day. Our part of Cornwall is drenched in cold rain that blows into every crevice or body part that is foolish enough not to be covered by waterproof clothing. I had hoped to get some pictures of snowdrops and early daffodils first thing this morning but the skies turned grey and our morning walk became all about doggy elimination and getting home. Rather than wandering the lanes of South East Cornwall looking for early signs of new growth I am catching up with post festive laundry, hence the picture from my strange archive. Fear not, this is not a blog about my laundry habits. That is a subject so dull it is only equalled as a dampener by Cornish rain.

Today’s blog is about the reward for festive laundry diligence.Soft, yielding gingerbread that accompanies my cup of tea between bouts of laundry activity. I have always been a lover of soft gingerbread treats, mostly around Christmas time and exclusively from Lidl

This festive season was about meeting new family members and deepening knowledge of people we’ve only met fleetingly before. Our Polish family members arrived bearing gifts, one of which was the most gorgeous soft gingerbread from the city of Torun. Somewhat late to this particular packet there were only three left when I had my first, and only one when I needed my mid laundry snack. Big mistake , these were the best gingerbreads I have ever eaten.

I’m told Torun is the world epicentre of gingerbread. Time to do a little research. The first record of gingerbread creation in Torun is in 1380. The city is ideally placed for making gingerbread because the landscape lends itself to the production of fine wheat on good soil and copious honey production by the village bees of the area. Spices were imported from India via Germany. Pierniki as they are known in Poland are soft gingerbread bakes, enrobed in dark chocolate with a hidden 💓 of fruit preserve. My particular Pierniki were made by the biggest manufacturer Kopernik, who’ve been making Gingerbread for 250 years.

http://www.kopernik.com.pl

Achievements of the day. One more satisfying than the other.

Clean washing
Empty Box

January Mornings Battersea and Saltash.

The return to work after the festive season is still a dismal dark business despite the days slowly getting a little brighter. Sunrise is around 8 am in January.

I took this photo a few years ago in the quiet period before commuting really gets going in London. I love it now because it is a lost image, redevelopment at Battersea Power Station has robbed rail commuters of this iconic silhouette.

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Gilbert Scott’s Battersea Power Station

Giant structures lend themselves to cold misty mornings, another commuting photograph popped up in my January timeline. Unlike the Battersea photograph for the next one I am a voyeur rather than a participating commuter.

Tamar Bridges at Saltash

Trains and sunrise play a part in both photographs. Obvious in the Battersea picture , it is more difficult on the Albert Bridge Saltash. Just a bright straight line of reflected light on the Penzance to Paddington train as it leaves Cornwall.

Both photographs are taken facing East.

Both structures are also favourites for paintings.

And sometimes a photograph.

Disdain and Apricity on the Hoe.

Sir Frances Drake. Pirate, Slave Trader, Explorer and Naval Captain.

Airstrike on the 3rd of January 2020, not the sort that makes world news.

Sir Francis Drake, Statue on Plymouth Hoe

theoldmortuary took a walk in the sunshine yesterday around Plymouth. Number 2 in Condè Nast best holiday destinations. We would have visited Number 1 but no busses went there from home.
https://www.cntraveller.com/gallery/best-holiday-destinations-2020

Apart from the small and acurate act of seagull disdain on Drake, Plymouth was looking pretty good.

We basked in the winter sun, protected from the wind by the Collonades above Tinside pool.

Hugo and Lola took to basking in Winter very quickly.

The required 10, 000 steps were broken up by nearly an hour of basking and drinking coffee.

It was all as you might expect from a Number 2 holiday destination.

A red wreath and red cars added a late festive flourish.

As always with theoldmortuary walks we found a nice example of rust.

Another Plymouth blog

https://theoldmortuary.design/2019/11/16/plymouth-quietly-having-a-moment/

4th January, no Advent, blogging wilderness?

There is a slight hesitancy in emerging from the last blog of an entirely self created Advent of 34 days . I’ve had to remind myself that this is, in my own words, a blog of no consequence.

It feels a little like my personal New Year’s Day, without the pressure of resolutions or plans. Whilst writing Advent blogs, other stories, photos and paintings occured that didn’t fit my writing brief for those 34 days. They will have their moments in the sun soon enough.

Today feels like a day to explain. I have always loved random information. Before Google or Wikipedia I was often the go to person for random knowledge. I’ve become socially redundant and if I’m honest a little resentful of Messrs Google and Wiki.

Naturally an introvert, random facts or useful knowledge were my carapaces of Extravertedness.

Attending a blog writing course with The Gentle Author gave me the clarity and freedom to examine my motivation for blogging.

Not for me a blog of worthiness or of great usefulness. This is a blog of no consequence, some random thoughts and facts and an occasional English word gleaned from my trusty 1971 Thesaurus.

It is also an occasional platform for the thoughts of Hugo and Lola who are present on most of theoldmortuary adventures

Advent#34

The end of Yule and the end of theoldmortuary Advent. Starting on the first day of a chocolate advent calendar and ending on the last day of Pagan Yule. Fittingly, as with much of the festive season, today’s blog is about something Pagan that is enmeshed in the secular and sacred traditions of a Christian Christmas. Christmas is for everyone… Lights are not just for Christmas…

Christmas Lights

The custom was borrowed from Pagan Yule rituals that celebrate the slow returning of light and lengthening days after the Winter Solstice.

©Kate DuPlessis

For Christians, lights symbolise the birth of Christ, the bringer of light to the World.

William Holman Hunt

©William Holman Hunt.org

Light was created for Pagans with the burning of the Yule Log, early tapers and braziers.

Early Christians had much the same. Candles,gas lights and then electricity. In the mid twentieth century, it became popular not only to decorate the tree with lights but also to decorate homes and commercial buildings with strings of lights. Cities have year round light shows that are only marginally ramped up for the festive season

©theoldmortuary Hong Kong

More recently, landscapes and country parks have realised the commercial value of having Festive Season illuminations.

Ginter Garden lights. ©Bob Kovacs


In many countries festive lights go up at the beginning of Advent and come down at Twefth Night or Candlemas.

But there is a new thinking out there…Psychologists suggest that putting Christmas decorations and lights up early makes people happier and the happiness spreads to friends and neighbours.
https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/people-put-christmas-decorations-up-early-happier-feelings-stress-anxiety-december-experts-study-a8065561.html

It doesn’t stop there, keeping them up beyond Twelfth Night is also a good thing.

https://www.inspiralist.com/home-garden/when-take-christmas-lights-down/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=sharelink

Shared from Inspiralist – https://www.inspiralist.com

theoldmortuary adopted year round Festive lights long ago. Although we are often quite late to decorate for the festive season.

Both of us have a background of medical imaging. In the pre-digital age that required a lot of time in an actual dark room but even in the digital age it requires working life in a darkened room. Domestically our interior design is inclined towards the dark side. A little bit of twinkle is good for us.

The Cornish Range is somewhat aged and thankfully we don’t rely on it to feed us or heat the house. A little bit of Festive illumination gives it the look of fabulous domestic productivity.

So from the glowing heart of theoldmortuary, it’s farewell to Advent until December 1st 2020.

Tomorrow is another day.